New Possibilities for the Small-Scale Gold Prospector (Part 1)

One type of platinum ore...doesn't look like much, does it?)

Those of us that have been at this small-scale mining thing long enough are well-versed when it comes to knowing the common or "standard" gold (and other precious metals) locales in the United States. Nearly every author of mining or prospecting books lists these sites and some dream merchants even have the unmitigated arrogance to try and sell maps of these same locations to you.

What I'd like to do here, however, is bring your attention to some new hard-rock precious metals and placer possibilities that have probably lost their attraction or fallen off the radar over time. So if you're tired of trying to work the same old beaten-to-death placer ground or perhaps want to improve your ore identification skills by trying your hand at a bit of lode prospecting, this post is for you.

Here is one such area to consider:

Austin, Nevada

The small town of Austin, Nevada lies almost dead center in the Silver State. The Lander Hill area has long been known for carrying platinum ore and two mine workings in particular, the Hillside and Belle Wilder shafts, were tested for the silvery chrome looking precious metal way back in the late 1940s (about the time yours truly was pooping in his first set of diapers).

Gold Panning Kits
Gold Concentrators
Metal Detectors

Platinum ore samples taken from the Hillside and Belle Wilder shafts as well in other locations near Austin assayed out at anywhere from $2.00 (USD) to $60.00 per ton. Now I don't know what platinum was going for back in the late '40s, but I do know gold was at $35.00 per troy ounce back then and that platinum was slightly higher in price. If you get out your trusty old calculator and do a bit of math you'll find out exactly what sort of possibilities may still exist in the Austin area.

Before you head for central Nevada you'll need a crash course in identifying platinum ore types...sorry, I can't help you with that one. The next question in your mind is whether or not platinum can be found in alluvial gravels as placer grains and nuggets. I can answer yes to that one.

 (Alluvial platinum nugget.)

Whether or not alluvial platinum is (or was) found in the Austin area is up for debate. One thing is certain though...any ore body that's exposed long enough to the elements will form elluvial or alluvial placers, no matter how small or contained those may be.

If you're experienced as a nugget shooter with a detector or simply an astute placer miner or hard-rock prospector, the area around Austin may hold some out-of-the-norm possibilities for you. All you have to do is get there and start doing your thing. Who knows? you might just come home with a bucketful of platinum ore or even a few platinum nuggets.

Best of luck to you.

If you liked this post, you may want to read:  "Platinum Still Being Found in Northern California Streams (Part 1)"

(c)  Jim Rocha (J.R.)

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